I always knew I could handle it if my team didn't accept my sexuality, as long as they respected me as a player.
Thankfully I've been lucky enough to be both accepted and respected by my teammates and coach since come out to them and then sharing my true self with the world. Coming into college I was so worried no players or coaches would accept a gay teammate, and now here I am three years later, a captain of my team.
It was made clear very early on that me being gay was not an issue in the slightest, but I still never thought I would be picked by the coaches to be a captain of the team. It really showed me what a non issue my sexuality is, even less of an issue than I thought before. This is a testament to our head coach, Michael Hunt. He sets an extremely accepting environment for us. He will accept you no matter what, so its great to know he's going to have your back.
Our coaching staff choosing me as a captain reminds me that I'm like every other player on the team. When I'm on the court, I'm just an athlete doing what I'm supposed to do to help the team. It's not something I had expected, as I do go to a religious university, but my school - Texas Lutheran University - is about as accepting as they come. My school even shared my original Outsports story on the TLU Facebook page, so having a gay athlete is definitely not something they're afraid of.
I know my story is a best-case scenario, but I want people to know that it is very possible to be out and thrive as an athlete. I never would have imagined I would end up on a team that accepted me, much less made me captain. Now I'm the happiest I have ever been. I can't say that just because my story worked out, everyone's will. What I can tell athletes is to not do anything until you're ready, but once you are ready and decide to be authentically who you are, you will be so much happier. The right team will accept you, the right people will accept you.
I know I never thought it would get better, but it did.
You can follow Ryan Beene on Twitter @ThatsSoRyannn.